Brighton & Hove Albion under-21 coach Simon Rusk hailed a hard-fought win over Stoke City yesterday and believes that the tide may be turning for his side after a difficult start to the season.
The Seagulls recorded a 1-0 win over the Potters at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre thanks to Solly March’s 77th-minute strike.
Rusk told seagulls.co.uk “We haven’t quite got what we've deserved at the start of the season.
“We lost away at Fulham [0-1], but I could have no complaints the Swansea game [0-1] because we didn’t turn up in the first half and went down to 10 men early in the second.
“Then we had a cruel defeat [1-2] to a strong Aston Villa side through a last-minute penalty where a draw would’ve been a great result for us.
“Whilst yesterday wasn’t a fluid performance, it was certainly one that I was pleased with because we won and kept a clean sheet.
“There are still certain aspects of play which we as an under-21 group cannot be satisfied with, but nonetheless I thought the boys did deserve their bit of luck.
“They deserved their three points after not having the rub of the green in the last three games and now it’s a platform to build on and gain a bit of confidence.”
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Albion had a strong side for the match with six first-team players featuring in the starting line-up; Niki Maenpaa, Danny Holla, Rohan Ince, Jake Forster-Caskey, March and Elvis Manu.
Rusk was happy with the quality shown for March’s goal and praised the impact of Maenpaa, who made some fine stops to preserve Albion’s lead.
“Jess [Starkey] put in an excellent ball and it was pleasing to see Solly attack the far stick with a real desire to get his goal.
“Niki has made some outstanding saves, was a great presence in the goal and certainly made a huge contribution in the group getting the three points.
“We had one or two more opportunities to score, as did Stoke, but it’s the fine margins at this level of football that gets you a win and that’s part of the younger players’ learning process.”